Another day, another location-based app, right? Well, Grafetee (pronounced gră-fə-tee,) is really not the same as something like Saga in that it’s meant to be both a location service as well as a framework to integrate in other location services.
Its exclusive functionality is location-based bookmarks. This allows people to share notes based on their current location, including photos. These bookmarks can be shared privately with other users through an 8-digit alphanumeric code, that allows them to join in and create their own notes. For example, a private directory of restaurants and bars visited could be created and shared between friends. This works without logging in to anything, and photos are shareable between platforms, as the app is on both iOS and Android.
But where Grafetee will be at its most immediately interesting for users is the way that it integrates in third-party services: right now, it uses various APIs to add in Foursquare tips, Yelp listings, Flickr and Instagram photos, Geocaches, and even Wikipedia listings nearby. All of these can be toggled as different visual layers, or displayed in a text list.
This is where the developer of the app hopes its long-term value comes from: being able to add in other services to make it more useful. One creative use is in the developer’s native Finland, they made it possible to let users report information to the police with Grafetee. As explained by Juha Huttennen of Grafetee: “The Finnish police for example, is using Grafetee to crowdsource crime-related data that is not urgent. So they don’t want you to use the app instead of calling 911 but they want you to give out data if you find something that threatens security or if there is a distrubance that you want the police to note and perhaps later act on. Like…if there is a street crossing that is dangerous, or if there is a stop sign that people usually disregard or whatever. They want to collect stuff like this from the public, instead of getting these calls to 911 or direct emails complaining about the same things. It definitely helps them to ease their workload and gives the public a channel.” It was launched nationwide in the past weeks. How did Grafetee get involved with the Finnish police? “I called them.”
One of the other benefits of Grafetee’s approach is that it isn’t necessarily crippled if it grows too big for its britches: controversies over shut-off API access have arisen around Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Instagram with Twitter, for example. With Grafetee providing their own bookmarking service, if Foursquare pulls access, they still have other services, including others that may come into the app’s ecosystem, including ones that may pay to be part of the app if it catches on. Given the potential of its open framework and the fact that a governmental organization is already using it, it’s just a question of further adoption by not just users – but those who may get use out of a location-based app like Grafetee.